Sailing Through Storms: Mental Health Matters
Meghann Scully, Mental Health Blogger @ThesisClinic @BookHubPublish
“If they walk away, it’s not because they don’t love you. it’s because they don’t know how to love you at this time”
– Robin Williams
Following the death of the great Robin Williams, many of his wonderful quotes began to appear on social media sites. The one above struck a real cord with me. Here is a man who entertained every household across the world, had us all in stitches, made us cry and gave us hope. But, inside, he was suffering greatly.
They say the funniest people hide the greatest pain. The biggest smile is fighting back the tears. The warmest heart holds onto the bitter cold. Robin Williams seemed to be surrounded by an abundance of people and would have had access to the best psychologists, doctors and more.
But sadly it wasn’t enough.
I am not looking for your sympathy, I am not asking for your help but I am letting you know my story and why the above quote has hit home with me in the hope that I can shine some light over your dark days and help you find peace and happiness again.
I am in a good place now. I have faced my fears, felt the pain, shed the tears, felt despair, darkness and loneliness. But I also found the light, a new meaning to life and the key to my happiness. I can write to you now because I have sailed through the storm and found a calm and peaceful ocean.
My brother, Marcus, is gone a whole decade. When the doctors told us he didn’t survive, our lives fell to pieces. My mother wailed, my father filled with guilt and anger and then there was 15 year old me. I saw two very heart broken parents before my eyes and decided I needed to be strong so I bottled my pain, my fear, my sadness and my deep loneliness.
A year later my father passed away. Again, I just did what I knew best and shoved all the additional emotion into that bottle. A few weeks later I began my Leaving Cert year and started socialising. So much distraction. I went to UL a year later and began a very exciting chapter of my life.
It was only after the four years in college that the bottle began to overflow. It had no more space. It had expanded as much as it could and the lid began to loosen. I struggled to keep it all in but it burst.
Every tear started to fall. The pain hit me like a thousand knives stabbing into my gut. The anger was uncontrollable and the depression was dark. I turned to those around me and exposed a very vulnerable sad girl. One who had so much to offer but now merely a wet handkerchief and a broken heart. I opened up and let it be known that I wasn’t happy. I felt depressed. I cried for help in more ways than one and hoped that my prayers would be answered now that I had finally spoken out.
Instead those I loved walked away. Without a care in the world it seemed. They were gone or so I thought. Calls went unanswered, texts without response. Nothing. There I was on that cold dark floor feeling I could trust nobody. Everyone was used to fun, bubbly, clumsy, life and soul of the party Meghann. The entertainer, the party girl, the supportive friend. But I was also partially responsible for giving myself such titles. The time came when I couldn’t keep up the act.
I often hear people say “just talk” or read articles about speaking out. I did just that, I spoke, I cried, I let it be known I needed help and felt those I told walked away. So how was I meant to feel then? How could I trust anyone? I told this person I feel really depressed and instead of giving me a hug and telling me I will be ok, they left. Walked out the door. Left me crying on the floor in desperation.
Another thing that happened with someone I once knew really hurt me. I woke up one day and felt awful. I was extremely anxious and upset. My house at the time was empty as everyone was at work or in college. I didn’t know what to do and then I remembered a friend who lived close by. We got on great so I thought he is the best to seek help from. I drove over to his house hardly able to see the road with the tears in my eyes. I broke down when I saw him and opened up about what was going on. A while later I dropped him into town and that was the last conversation we ever had. I don’t hold any resentment for this person. I just know he didn’t know what to do and I frightened him.
But were they real friends or was I living in false hope? I soon began to realise who were my real friends. Who I could trust. Some old friends resurfaced and proved to be extra supportive. New faces appeared who gave me hope and love. I began to realise for the first time that some people just didn’t know what to say.
I could have pointed the finger at those people and blamed them for not helping me but I had to help myself. They were either scared or frightened or maybe just didn’t really understand. Some people are afraid of feeling certain emotions and can’t cope themselves. It’s not that they don’t love you they just don’t know how to love you at this time.
Everyone has their own cross to bear and might not be able to handle yours as well. I will never know but what I do know is that there are good people around you. People that want to listen and want to help. It may be that friend you hardly see, that aunt you thought wouldn’t understand or even your dog.
Yes, your pet dog. I turned to my horse when I was very low. Maybe because she was in a field I knew she couldn’t leave but I told her everything. I may have gotten no answer or solutions from her but I got love. That unbreakable bond between human and animal. I knew she was listening and I knew she cared.
I sometimes feel I was the lucky one or maybe I was destined for more things in life. I never wanted to die but I wanted the pain to go away and I wanted a quick solution. The easy way out. But that isn’t how life works. These things take time and work. It’s hard work but it’s worth it. You will learn so much about who you are, what you want and who you need.
If you are feeling depressed, angry, sad or just want a good cry but don’t know who to turn to then maybe try writing it down on paper. Get yourself a nice notepad and start writing every thing you feel. The darkest moments to what makes you angry, that great pain in your chest, what set it off and what helped to ease it. Make sure to document the good times as well and read over the happy times when you feel low. It will remind you of the good times and that you can have them again.
Don’t be afraid to tell the people around you what you feel. If they walk away, it’s not because they don’t love you, it’s because they don’t know how to love you at this time. But someone around you is only waiting for you to talk to them.
Being depressed isn’t anything to be ashamed about and you don’t need to suffer in silence. It’s like a storm in the ocean. It may last a while but once you keep control of the boat and ride the waves, calm sea will come. The storm will blow over and it’s back to plain sailing. The next time a storm hits, you know exactly what you need to do to steer the boat on the right path. Don’t just give up when you hit that first wave. Once you have the knowledge and the skill you won’t even notice the dark clouds over head and you can enjoy the view and the journey. The storm will eventually only be a ripple.
When you look at a rose what do you see? For a long time I could only see dirty thorns, a dangerous plant that only wanted to prick me. But it was my eye that chose to see that side to it. In actual fact it is one of the most spectacular flowers created on earth. The next time you look at a rose try see the beauty in its petals, its vibrant colour and appreciate the delicacy of this plant. I love nothing more now than admiring the rose plants in my garden.
To sum it all up you are never alone but you may feel lonely. Your friends may not understand at first but as I said it’s not because they don’t love you, they don’t know how to love you at this time. They may learn to love you again and if not, well you don’t need them in your life. There is plenty of people full of love and ready to love you no matter what form or mood you are in.
It may seem like a funny world at times, confusing and a little unsure but you need to remember it is also a great world with loads to see and do. There is a world out there waiting for you to enjoy it and lap it up.
*Meghann Scully is from Ardrahan, Galway works in broadcasting and is our resident mental health and wellness blogger with The Dissertation Doctor’s Clinic & Book Hub Publishing.